Notes on Joshua, Chapter 22:1-9
by Jonathan Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)
Jos 22:1-3, KJV 1 Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, 2 And said unto them, Ye have kept all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, and have obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you: 3 Ye have not left your brethren these many days unto this day, but have kept the charge of the commandment of the LORD your God.
They had promised to do this back in Joshua 1:12-18 after Joshua’s address to them.
4 And now the LORD your God hath given rest unto your brethren, as he promised them: therefore now return ye, and get you unto your tents, (and) unto the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you on the other side Jordan.
Joshua here gives them a release from active military service and the official permission to return to their inheritance on the east side of the Jordan.
5 But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.
This word of warning and exhortation was warranted. Joshua had already seen thousands of Israelites fall victim to the worship of false deities (the golden calf, in Exodus 32—just a short time after leaving Egypt!—and the encounter at Peor in Numbers 25). He had to be aware that the Israelites were already tending to leave various groups or communities of Canaanites alone, or putting them to forced labor—clearly a violation of God’s command. There is only one way to receive God’s blessing and that is, simply, to follow God’s will!
6 So Joshua blessed them, and sent them away: and they went unto their tents.
One wonders what these men were thinking as they traveled through the land they had helped conquer. They and Joshua had fought many battles, winning every one of them except the first battle of Ai, and now they were returning to their inheritance. Perhaps they reflected on God’s goodness to them!
7 Now to the (one) half of the tribe of Manasseh Moses had given (possession) in Bashan: but unto the (other) half thereof gave Joshua among their brethren on this side Jordan westward. And when Joshua sent them away also unto their tents, then he blessed them, 8 And he spake unto them, saying, Return with much riches unto your tents, and with very much cattle, with silver, and with gold, and with brass, and with iron, and with very much raiment: divide the spoil of your enemies with your brethren.
Joshua may have instructed Manasseh to divide the “spoil” or plunder within their own tribe or he may have been telling them to share these items among all of the tribes.
Reuben, Gad, and half-Manasseh had requested the land east of Jordan for their livestock (Numbers 32). They already had “a multitude of cattle (Num. 32:1)” and God blessed them with even more!
9 And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh returned, and departed from the children of Israel out of Shiloh, which (is) in the land of Canaan, to go unto the country of Gilead, to the land of their possession, whereof they were possessed, according to the word of the LORD by the hand of Moses.
Shiloh, by this time, was still the central point or headquarters for Israel (see Joshua 18) instead of Gilgal, the original assembly point or headquarters, when they had crossed Jordan (Joshua 4:19-20, e.g.). Shiloh was in Ephraim, more or less in the middle of Israel; Gilgal was farther east and south, near the Jordan.
Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV).